Monday, July 16, 2018

Ten Short Books I've Read

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is about short stories and novellas, neither of which I read very often. I've written here before about how shorter formats simply lack the kind of deep development in characters, setting, and plot that I prefer in my stories. Instead I just looked on Goodreads for any books I'd read under 150 pages that weren't plays or children's books. Here are ten in that category.

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I was familiar with the contours of this story from childhood, but I didn't read the actual story until middle school, when I also got to see a performance of the play version.

2. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy packs a lot into fewer than 100 pages with his unflinching look at the way we are led to squander the time we have and deny when the end is coming.

3. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
I read this twice in high school and never really got much out of it except for an understanding of what a "vignette" is.

4. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
I got this off my parents' bookshelf, read it in an afternoon, and remember almost nothing from it. It's some sort of philosophical metaphor for life.

5. Night by Elie Wiesel
This was the first true-life account I read of living through the Nazi Holocaust, though I've read a number of others since then. I ought to go back and read this one.

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I read this in high school; I don't remember it being better or worse than Steinbeck's other classic books, so I wonder if it's usually chosen for its length (specifically compared with the much-longer East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath).

7. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Another short Steinbeck, this one less well-known. I still remember some of larger themes from this book, which isn't surprising since it was based on a Mexican folk tale, and folk tales tend to focus around universal themes in a way that will be remembered.

8. A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
This is a slim but powerful overview of the history, politics, and current-day situation of Antigua, the small Caribbean island where Kincaid grew up.

9. With Burning Hearts by Henri Nouwen
Nouwen uses the story of the travelers on the road to Emmaus to walk the reader through the parts of the Mass with fresh eyes. I'd like to reread this one.

10. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El-Saadawi
El-Saadawai minces no words in showing how a society where women have no rights is a society that forces women to do the unthinkable to survive.

What short books have you read?

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Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: A Piece of the World
Five years ago I was reading: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, The Book Thief, and Thinking, Fast and Slow
Ten years ago I was reading: The Left Hand of Darkness

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